Conversion Magic: Harnessing Psychology for Your Online Course Landing Page

9 delicious donuts. 1 with a bite out of it to illustrate the psychology of design to influence buying decisions.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO ) is a game of millimeters. Many business owners don’t realize it when they look at a professionally built webpage, but there are all sorts of calculated psychological reactions happening inside their brains.

From the size of the font and the language being used to the color of the call-to-action (CTA) buttons, high-converting landing pages are a masterclass in psychology.

Speaking of classes, we work with a lot of online education course creators at Tall Poppies Design. Getting people to sign up for a curriculum is no easy task. The good news is most people enter landing pages with a certain degree of interest—and just need a few extra nudges to prompt a sign-up.

In this post, we want to discuss a handful of psychology-based tips to help educators increase their landing page conversion rates.

Understanding the Intersection of Psychology and Conversion Rate Optimization

Have you ever wondered why most fast-food chains use red and/or yellow in their logos?

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, In-N-Out, etc.

This is because the positive qualities of red have been psychologically proven to attract attention and trigger appetites – whereas yellow is associated with happiness and friendship. The result of this combination is food and comfort.

Marketing is all psychology.

Landing pages—the good and the bad—are psychological battlegrounds!

We may not realize it, but every little quirk on a webpage sends subliminal messages to our brains by either encouraging us to take an intended action or to run for the hills. To build a high-performing landing page, there needs to be an understanding of how digital design techniques mesh with human behavior.  

We’re going to put this bluntly: incorporating psychology into an effective landing page CRO strategy is why you hire a professional web designer or web agency. Designers have been to university and spent years in the field experimenting and analyzing psychological cues to resonate with a visitor’s emotions. These insights inform their ability to build beautiful landing pages. 

If applied correctly, design elements use cognitive cues to guide users towards taking action – whether it be buying a product, providing contact information, or in our case, signing up for an online course.

Psychology-Backed CRO Techniques for Online Courses

Use Price Anchoring

Ah, price anchoring: the bread and butter of Black Friday.

The 65-inch TV price tag reads $1199 $699 – that’s a deal no one in their right mind would turn down, right?!

That’s the intended reaction when you use price anchoring.

By initially showcasing a higher price, or “original” price, and then juxtaposing it with a cheaper price (maybe for a limited time only), the perception of the value is anchored to the higher price point.

This psychological tactic is a match made in heaven for online course landing page CRO.

Implementing a price comparison creates cognitive biases to make the discounted price more appealing—and it might be the little nudge needed for a prospect to sign up for the course. This visual contrast between the prices, enhanced with strikethroughs or contrasting colors, can further emphasize the savings, making the offer more compelling.

Create a Bandwagon Effect with Social Proof

Humans are social creatures. We’re hardwired to come together and be in groups—generally speaking, of course.

The bandwagon effect—which is also known as crowd or herd mentality—uses a human’s hardwired tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of a large group.

Think about when you’re scrolling Instagram. You see a post in your feed and the algorithm shows you one of your friends or people you follow liked that post. Instinctively, your brain is naturally encouraged to also like that post.

That’s just one tiny example of the bandwagon effect.

In terms of online course landing page CRO, you can use the bandwagon effect in a few different ways.

For example, say you are offering an online course for professional copywriting. You can include tidbits like “X students were hired at marketing agencies after completing this course” or “We helped X students find jobs after completing the course”.

There are a million ways to use the bandwagon effect on an online course landing page, including:

  • Testimonials from past students
  • Recommendations from industry influences
  • Ratings
  • Number of students enrolled

Incorporating the bandwagon effect within an online course landing page creates social proof, implying that the course is both popular and accepted by others.

Phrases like “Join thousands of satisfied students” or using visual elements to show the number of enrollees work to create a sense of community around the course. More importantly, it taps into the visitor’s desire to be part of a successful trend, making the decision to enroll more appealing.

Focus on Building Authority

If you wanted to learn how to cook, would you take a course taught by Gordan Ramsay or someone you’ve never heard of?

Signing up for a course is a big commitment—both online and in-person.

Most people don’t want to be taught by just anyone. When people need guidance/education, they want it to be from a bona fide expert.

This is why professors publish research papers, books, and are active in thought leadership communities.

You could be the brightest expert on your subject matter the world has ever seen, but if you don’t have anything to prove it—and no one knows who you are—it’s going to be tough to get signups for your class. Online course landing pages need to say something about the teacher and why they are qualified to teach the course.

Say you’re offering an online class for graphic design.

Your authority as a designer is what makes your course desirable from a psychological standpoint. It establishes credibility and trust. To get this point across, you would need to showcase elements like:

  • Years of experience in the field
  • Awards
  • Endorsements
  • Affiliations
  • Media mentions
  • Professional certifications

To name a few…

People are more likely to enroll in a course when they see evidence of expertise and recognition in the field. This indicates the quality and value they will get from the course. Before you begin advertising an online course landing page, focus on gaining authority in the field. This will be instrumental in getting people to sign up.

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Have you ever been to a restaurant with a giant menu and banged your head against the table trying to choose an entre?

This is one example of analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis (in addition to being a catchy rhyme) refers to when a target audience is overwhelmed by too much information, choices, or complexity. Most 21st-century humans are accustomed to making snap decisions and have gotten very good at naturally filtering out non-essential information.

In web design, presenting giant walls of text is a quick reason for visitors to find the “X” button.

When you’re building an online course landing page, it’s essential to differentiate between what should be said to promote the course versus what can be said in the course itself or on a call about the course.

The landing page needs to be highly organized and focused to prevent visitors from getting stuck in an endless loop of consideration. Some ways to avoid analysis paralysis include:

  • Concise content
  • Good readability (clear sections, headings, bullet points, etc.)
  • Clear calls to action
  • Easy ways to reach out with questions

In an online course landing page, the name of the game is reducing complexity and cognitive load. This makes the process of absorbing key information easy and generates more confident decisions.

Use Scarcity to Your Advantage

Scarcity is probably the psychological trigger we’re all most familiar with.

When we’re looking at a product on Amazon and it says “Order now, only 4 left”, we’re naturally inclined to hit “buy” due to the fear of missing out (FOMO).

This same concept can be applied to online course landing page CRO.

  • “Only 4 spots left”
  • “Only 3 more days to enroll”
  • Countdown timers

Now, online courses have a unique advantage here. Smaller class sizes are generally seen as more effective in the learning experience. This, paired with the psychological trigger of scarcity, can do a lot to drive a website visitor to make quicker decisions, as they don’t want to lose the opportunity to participate.

Consider using countdown timers or displaying decreasing availability in real-time. A skilled web developer can make this happen for you. When applied appropriately, scarcity plays on the human nature to value things that are limited in availability.

What’s The Next Step?

You set out to help people better their lives through education—now you’ve got to get them in the door.

This list is just a handful of the psychological triggers used in effective landing pages. People have written books on this topic. With these five tips, you can do a lot to stand out in the field and earn more precious sign-ups.

At Tall Poppies Design, we’ve been working closely with online educators for many years. No matter what you teach or bring to the table, our experts are here to build landing pages that help get more eyeballs on your curriculum. We specialize in landing page design, development, SEO, content, and of course, conversion optimization strategies. Get in touch today to learn more!


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